In a bid to protect the integrity of the nation’s communications industry the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Anti-Fraud Task Force with help of some telecommunication group has arrested simbox fraudsters from a location at Dome Pillar 2 on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. Their actions is said to have led to the loss of over US$800,000. Two more suspects; Christopher Jojo Eswusie and John Owusu, are however on the run.
Head of Public Relations at the CID, Joseph Benefo Darkwa, says Ghana has reportedly lost over US$50million through the actions of SIMBOX fraudsters. Briefing the media on the arrests, Communications Minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah commended personnel of the CID, the Task Force and the MTN for making the significant arrest. “You can see from the evidence that there is always collusion with external interests to defraud our system.
The exercise by our Security Agencies should therefore send a message that we are also prepared for them. We shall chase them and smoke them out of the ‘holes’ in which they are hiding”. According to Dr. Omane Boamah, Government is supporting the work of the Anti-Fraud Task Force with appropriate policies and regulatory actions to improve transparency in the telecommunications industry.
He added “Indeed, recognising the limitations of existing licensing regime and to address the challenges faced by operators who have implemented peer-to-peer interconnect regimes, the ITU has provided recommendations to resolve interconnection disputes and also to guide the licensing of Next Generation Networks”. ‘Simboxing’ The technology exists for alternative (illegitimate, criminal and fraudulent) routes to be employed to bring international telephone traffic into the country without passing through the registered International Gateways. Because these are not official and unregistered hence do not pay relevant fees and taxes. They also divert revenue from the telcos to their private accounts and those of their collaborators both inside and outside the country.
Dr. Omane Boamah explained that the illegal by-pass are done by illegal Operators who use a device called SIMBOX, which can accommodate from 4 to 50,000 SIM cards. The SIMBOX intercepts international calls through the internet to convert and present them as local calls to the receiving public. The availability of high speed internet as well as unregistered SIM cards facilitates the business of simboxing.
Meanwhile, the Minister announced, Government has approved four new policies to introduce four new licenses to regulate emerging value- added services. These licenses are: Interconnect Clearing House License with a potential to control the incidence of by- pass of incoming international telephone traffic to the country, International Wholesale License, Unified Access Service License and the Mobile Virtual Network Operations License (MVNO). The introduction of the new licenses he indicated, will expand the range of value-added, services, especially the introduction of premium services by third party content providers. “They will encourage competition and grant a level and fair playing field within the communications eco-system”.
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